Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Noah Preminger – #1 Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist in DownBeat's 65th Annual Critics Poll

Noah Preminger earns #1 Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist 
in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll

155 Critics from across the globe vote in poll

Preminger’s most recent album Meditations on Freedom, a protest album released on Inauguration Day, has earned wide critical acclaim

Acclaimed saxophonist and composer Noah Preminger has earned the #1 spot as “Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist” in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll. A group of 155 international critics from organizations including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, DownBeat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, NPR, Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice participated in this year’s poll.

Preminger won handily in his category. A feature article in the current edition of DownBeat cites his “distinctive character” and “huge tenor tone and muscular rhythms.” It calls Preminger’s 2017 Meditations on Freedom “an impassioned musical treatise.”

Meditations on Freedom was released on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), as a protest album. It features Preminger’s quartet with trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass, and drummer Ian Froman. The album, recorded live on the studio floor with no edits by engineer Jimmy Katz, reimagines politically charged songs by Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, Sam Cooke, and George Harrison, and features Preminger originals including “the 99 Percent,” “Women’s March,” “Mother Earth,” “Broken Treatis,” and “We Have a Dream.”

About his motivation to release Meditations, Preminger says, “I realize that the key thing I can hope to do with music – particularly instrumental jazz, with no words – is to heighten emotions. That said, some of the most beautiful, meaningful creations in the history of jazz have been poetic statements of protest, like John Coltrane’s ‘Alabama’ or Sonny Rollins’ ‘Freedom Suite’ and so many more great examples. I would never put myself in that category, but I’m not alone among jazz musicians today who wonder why it is that we do this. Ultimately it’s important to care about something larger than yourself and that’s what I am trying to convey with this music."

30-year-old Preminger has performed on stages from Boston and New York to Europe and Australia, playing with a wide range of jazz greats including Dave Liebman, Dave Holland, Fred Hersch, Dave Douglas, Victor Lewis, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Billy Drummond, George Cables, Roscoe Mitchell, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Cecil McBee, John McNeil and Frank Kimbrough. A native of Canton, Connecticut, Preminger has released eight critically acclaimed albums.

His 2008 debut Dry Bridge Road was named Debut of the Year in the Village Voice Critics Poll, along with making Top 10 Albums of the Year lists in JazzTimes, Stereophile and The Nation.  In 2011 Palmetto Records released Preminger’s next album Before the Rain, an essay in atmospheric romance that blends virtues both modern and old school. Reviewing that album, All About Jazz said: “Sensitivity and an ear for aural sophistication are the hallmarks of tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger.”  Preminger’s third album, Haymaker (Palmetto, 2013), features the saxophonist in mostly original material (plus a Dave Matthews cover and a tune from Annie for good measure). In The New York Times, Ben Ratliff said: “Mr. Preminger designs a different kind of sound for each note, an individual destiny and story,” while Nate Chinen chimed in, too, lauding his “darkly shaded… warmly expressive” tone and his “fluency, prudence and control.”

The Boston Globe called Preminger’s music “impressive, challenging and beautiful.” In autumn 2016, Preminger followed his fiery, blues-fueled quartet discs Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground and Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar by showing his more intimate, romantic side again with a collection of ballads, Some Other Time, released exclusively as a vinyl LP by Newvelle Records.

He recorded this with a dream band featuring Monder, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Billy Hart. All About Jazz, reviewing Some Other Time, said: “With this all-star band in tow, Preminger does what he does best: He tells a compelling story without frills – and he does it better than he has ever done before.”

Praise for Meditations on Freedom

“His saxophone emits a broad and smoky sound, with a measured inflection that gives the music an unhurried, cogitative pacing.”—Giovanni Russonello, New York Times

4.5 stars—“His playing is like getting a good bottle of wine and smelling the cork.”—Dan Ouellette, DownBeat

“The five Preminger originals traffic in the kind of music-making that makes this young jazz man one of the most intriguing of his generation.”—Steve Feeney, The Arts Fuse

4 stars—“Noah Preminger has recently separated himself from the tenor-saxophone multitudes. He is an immersive improviser. Ideas flow from him in rivers, in continuous adventures of discovery.”—Thomas Conrad, Stereophile

“It’s no stretch to place Preminger’s urgently created art in the lineage of great socially conscious jazz, from the late ’50s civil rights-inspired Freedom Suite by Sonny Rollins and Max Roach’s We Insist! (Freedom Now Suite) to 2005’s Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra’s Not In Our Name. In keeping with these classic predecessors, Preminger’s music is raw and loose-limbed, starkly emotional but also strikingly poised and eloquent.”—Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen

“Preminger produces a large, lovely tone, which he shades a dozen different ways depending on aesthetic need, and has plenty of technique in the tank.”—Neil Tesser, Jazziz

“…deep grooving delight with a rich tenor tone…”—George Harris, Jazz Weekly

“Preminger has a monumental achievement on his hands here.”—Alan Young, New York Music Daily

Wadada Leo Smith tops 3 categories in DownBeat Critics Poll

Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith
tops 3 categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll and is featured in August 2017 cover story 

Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter and Jazz Album of the Year
for October 2016 Cuneiform release America’s National Parks 

155 Critics from across the globe vote in poll

(Photo: Michael Jackson)

Boldly original trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith has topped three categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll: Jazz Artist, Trumpet and Jazz Album (for America’s National Parks on Cuneiform.)  A group of 155 international critics from organizations including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, DownBeat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, NPR, Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice participated in this year’s poll.  Smith is also featured on the cover of the August 2017 issue of DownBeat.

A six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes, America’s National Parks earned wide praise as one of the best albums of 2016 from media like The New York Times, the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, Slate, The Wire and many others. 

Throughout his career, Smith, 75, has been recognized for his groundbreaking work. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as "Creative Music."  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum's 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement "honoring brilliance and resilience."

In addition, Smith was honored by the Jazz Journalists Association as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as the 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer.  The JJA also named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year. In 2013 he was also selected as DownBeat Magazine's Composer of the Year and he graced the cover of that magazine in November 2016.

In October 2015, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith's Ankhrasmation scores. In addition to igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them, their use of non-standard visual directions makes them works of art in themselves. In 2016, the scores were also featured in the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. exhibition, and at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco, among other places.

Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith's early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environments of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. In addition to America’s National Parks, Smith was widely recognized for his landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers, “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach,” (Francis Davis, Rhapsody Jazz Critics Poll).

Upcoming recordings include Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa (TUM) featuring Smith with guitarists Michael Gregory Jackson, Henry Kaiser, Brandon Ross and Lamar Smith, plus Bill Laswell on electric bass, Pheeroan akLaff on drums and Adam Rudolph on percussion. Also on TUM will be Alone: Reflections and Meditations on Monk, a solo recording.

Kumpania Algazarra de regresso a Espanha

Depois de terem passado pelo Festival Millo Verde em Redondela, a 10 Junho, e pelo Festival Tamborilê, no dia 17 de Junho, os Kumpania Algazarra estão de malas prontas para voltar a Espanha para mais dois festivais. No próximo dia 29 de Junho a banda vai estar no Festival Alamar, em Almeria, e no dia 1 de Julho vão até à Ilha de Fuerteventura para o Festival Fuerteventura en Música. 

A Tour "Acoustic Express" continua e os concertos em Portugal seguem-se na próxima semana onde a banda vai passar pelo Festival Terra Transmontana, em Mogadouro, e pelo Alameda Beer Fest, em Faro, no segundo fim de semana de Julho. A banda volta a Espanha no final de Julho para marcar presença no Festival Íboga Summer Fest onde já esteve em 2014. 

Tour 2017:
29 Junho | Festival Alamar | Almeria (ES) 
1 Julho | FEM | Fuerteventura (ES) 
7 Julho | Festival Terra Transmontana | Mogadouro
8 Julho | Alameda Beer Fest | Faro
23 Julho | a anunciar
25 Julho | Festas do Concelho | Loures
27 Julho | Festival Íboga Summer Fest | Valência (ES)
29 Julho | Festival Folk Celta | Ponte da Barca 
30 Julho | Feira de Enchidos, Queijo e Mel | Vila de Rei
6 Agosto | a anunciar  
9 Agosto | Festas de S. Lourenço | Azenhas do Mar
19 Agosto | Ariano Folk Festival | Ariano Irpino (IT) 
26 Agosto | Evento Privado | Genebra (CH)

Jan Harbeck Live Jive Jungle - Elevate (SUNDANCE MUSIC 2017)

The charismatic tenor saxophonist and composer Jan Harbeck has put his name on several of Denmark’s best selling instrumental jazz records in recent years. The characteristic laid-back soulful ease of his three Stunt releases have enthused audiences. With deep roots in the Swing tradition, his personal touch refreshes and renews this music.

Jan Harbeck’s first release earned him several awards. The surprising dark horse award-winner of the magazine Jazz Special’s annual “Recording of the Year”, IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT (Stunt, 2008), brushed all the advance favorites aside. The same year, he received the prestigious Bent Jædig Award and was nominated for “New Jazz Act of the Year” at the Danish Music Awards.

Harbeck’s evocative and outgoing Swing style earned him many friends, and his second album, COPENHAGEN NOCTURNE (Stunt, 2011) was also hailed as one of the year’s best jazz releases. Original, and oozing self-confidence, the album shows Jan digging even deeper into his music with a striking presence – whether playing standards or Harbeck originals. To Harbeck, it makes no difference who the composer is. His quest is to find the innermost core of each piece.

He is now one of the Danish sax players to be reckoned with. On VARIATIONS IN BLUE (Stunt CD & LP, 2014), he took yet a step upward along with his brother in spirit Walter Smith III on an album that has more fine qualities than space here allows us to list. Like Harbeck, Smith gives priority to absorption and musical presence rather than ego.

Now Harbeck has delved into other aspects of his talent. While still retaining his acoustic quartet, he has put together a new, funky band – Live Jive Jungle. This band emerged from an urge to play music based on hard-swinging drumbeats – like Gene Krupa in a Benny Goodman classic like Sing Sing Sing! These charming, riff-based compositions, beats and grooves, aim to get jazz audiences (back) on the dance floor. If you are among those who have experienced Live Jive Jungle’s extroverted and intense late-night shows at the Copenhagen jazz nightclub La Fontaine, you know that it is for real – and with a solid foundation in the great tenor tradition of jazz.

ELEVATE was recorded “live in the studio” by legendary Flemming Rasmussen, who helps the sound jump out of the speakers. As producer and sound engineer on early Metallica albums, he knows what he is doing! All music on the album is by Jan Harbeck, and the interplay with electric guitarist Thor Madsen, bass guitarist Jeppe Skovbakke and drummer Peter Leth sparks and ignites

Jungle Jive
The Chaser
Straighten Up
Fly By Night

Thor Madsen (g)
Jeppe Skovbakke (b)
Peter Leth (d)

Ben Goldberg - From the Granary (BAG PRODUCTION RECORDS 2017)

I am spending the summer with a dozen other composers, poets, painters, and novelists in a castle in Italy called Civitella Rainieri. One of my goals while here is to develop pieces for solo clarinet so I'm sitting around with the microphone on. (Also trying to learn the basics of recording - thanks Adam Muñoz!) I made a Bandcamp album where I will post some of these pieces day-by-day. Right now it's called "From the Granary" because I'm living in the old granary here. The songs will be free, or you could pay a little if you like. I started with one song and will try to add one most days.

Released June 26, 2017 

01. A Little Morning Song 02:24
02. Flower Water 6 26 10:09

Ben Goldberg Quintet - The door, the Hat, the, Chair, the Fact (BAG PRODUCTION RECORDS 2017)

This music is for Steve Lacy. It was written in 2004 after I learned that Steve had cancer. I was thinking and thinking about him and I wished there was something I could do so I wrote down all the music I could and I kept thinking of Steve and hoping for the best. 

Once Steve Lacy gave me a lesson, I mean I went over to his house for a lesson, I had already been doing my best to draw a lesson from his work. It was 1985, for some reason I had been in Paris a lot and when I was there I would go to the Sunset and listen to Steve and politely beg for a lesson. Finally he relented, maybe so I would stop bothering him and also saying, “I have a soft spot for clarinetists.” 

I should say that back then I had a hero and it was Steve Lacy. I mean the kind of hero where you wish you could do what they do. This was mostly based on the evidence of “Evidence,” a record he made in 1961 with Don Cherry. I had to listen to that record about four times a day, and though I was in the dark I memorized Steve Lacy’s solos and tried to figure out what he was doing. The note that lifts all other notes up into the world. Punctuation. The line that’s backwards and forwards and the pop of logic more logical than logic. 

At the lesson Steve said he wasn’t really a teacher so maybe we could treat this like a visit to the doctor: play a duet and based on that diagnosis he would prescribe something. Evidently the fundamentals needed vitality. Steve said you had to know the difference between materials and material and suggested two lines of inquiry concerning materials. These were exercises for uncovering the basic elements. 

He talked matter of factly about the invisible, and I caught a glimpse of what an artist does. He said, “If you stay in the dark long enough, eventually you’ll see the light.” He gave me a copy of “Hocus Pocus” and a book of rhythm by Kenny Clarke and I was so happy I wrote a poem and worked on those exercises for ten years. The exercises were strong medicine – the first time I played them I got dizzy and almost fainted. 

In 1992 I was preparing a concert of Steve’s music and he sent me a fax of “Blinks.” There was a note at the top, and when I started writing this music the note became a song: “Dear Ben, been out of town. Probably too late but here’s Blinks anyway. I am hardly here these days.” Blinks is my favorite Steve Lacy song, it gets the up and down just right, plus the poem was on it so a few of the pieces here are based on “Blinks.” 

I had booked the studio for June 7th; Steve passed away June 4th. I was so sad, a lot of people were calling each other up. We had a rehearsal and then went and made the record. It was a sad time. The title comes from a poem by Robert Creeley. Steve Lacy wrote a song called The Door and once he sent me a postcard signed “Chapeau.” Kenny Clarke sat on a chair. In honor of the durability of Steve’s music I once made up an exercise called Pursuit of Facts. 

Pursuit of Facts. A fax arrived, with a poem on it. I am hardly here these days. 

Ben Goldberg 
October 2005

Released June 4, 2017 

01. Petals 01:38
02. Song and Dance 04:26
03. Long Last Moment 06:32
04. F13 02:58
05. Facts 01:56
06. Blinks 04:57
07. I Before E Before I 07:15
08. Learned from Susan Stewart 05:14
09. MF 02:59
10. Facts 03:34
11. Dogs Life 05:45
12. Lone 01:11
13. Cortege 05:01
14. Bonus Track 05:54

Rob Sudduth - tenor saxophone 
Carla Kihlstedt - violin and voice 
Devin Hoff - bass 
Ches Smith - drums 
Ben Goldberg - clarinet 

All songs by Ben Goldberg (NJAMIN music, ASCAP), except Blinks, by Steve Lacy (Steve Lacy Music,SACEM). F13 is by Carla Kihlstedt and Ben Goldberg. On Facts, words by Steve Lacy, music by Ben Goldberg. 

Recorded by Jeff Cressman at Bay Records, Berkeley California, June 7 and 8, 2004 
Mixed and mastered by Rich Breen. Produced by Ben Goldberg. Executive Producer: Jeff Gauthier. Art by Molly Barker.

Ben Goldberg School, Vol. I: The Humanities (feat. Kasey Knudsen, Hamir Atwal, Rob Reich, David Ewell & Jeff Cressman) BAG PRODUCTION RECORDS 2017

Now coming to light more than five years after the recordings were made, Vol 1: The Humanities by Ben Goldberg represents a run-up to his widely acclaimed opus, The Orphic Machine. The first release by his then-newest combo the “Ben Goldberg School,” the version of this band that made these sessions included Kasey Knudsen on alto sax, Jeff Cressman on trombone (who also engineered the whole affair), Rob Reich on accordion/piano, David Ewell on bass, and Hamir Atwal on drums. Ben Goldberg plays the instrument he’s practically synonymous with, the clarinet.

Outwardly, the ambitions for this one might fall below that of The Orphic Machine, which isn’t to mean the commitment to quality is any less; after all, some of the ideas presented on The Humanities eventually made it on Orphic. With this smaller ensemble, an emphasis on seductive compositions and arrangements on display is a hallmark of the Tin Hat quartet, the fame creative chamber jazz combo Goldberg co-founded and also features Reich.

A certain solemness pervades this grouping of songs, but not without moments of liberating expression that keep these formal, sometimes intricate charts tethered to humanity. Like “This One Is For Bravery,” a folk melody treated with courtly affection but near the end of it Atwal’s drums loosen up while Cressman, Goldberg and Knudsen splinter away from each other. Or “Nine Pound Hammer,” which boasts lovely harmonies among the horns and a Cressman solo as the rhythm section gets restless before the focus shifts to Ewell and then a return to the theme this time with the restless drums.

“Time Is The New Space” is a multi-sectioned through-composed piece that commences with a stately, Old World style horns-only figure. Reich’s accordion along with Ewell and Atwal softly enters the scene and proceeds to move through distinct carefully constructed themes. “Lagniappe” features rich arrangements of sax, trombone and clarinet plus accordion, a Slavic flavor that hints at the klezmer jazz Goldberg pioneered with the groundbreaking New Klezmer Trio. “Arounds Wears The Hat” is a somber dirge that takes a more hopeful tone on Goldberg’s cue, changing the melody completely, ending this course with the stateliness by which it began.

It sometimes seems that every Ben Goldberg project is a special project, one that goes off the path to deliver on some certain brainchild from his fertile mind. Vol 1: The Humanities is what one might imagine a ‘regular’ Ben Goldberg record to sound like, if such a thing could ever exist. As a composite of ideas and influences introduced elsewhere, this is a fine entry point to his catalog that dilutes none of his expansive artfulness.

01. Time Is the New Space 17:42
02. Nine Pound Hammer 4:48
03. Lagni 10:26
04. What Was That 5:45
05. This One Is For Bravery 6:45
06. Bongoloid Lens 3:42
07. Arounds / Wears the Hat 4:23